Recovery Step 11

Improve Our Conscious Contact With God

“We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.”

We come into recovery with one of three positions on God.

  1. A belief that God exists, is good and can work positively in our lives.
  2. A lack of belief, or a belief that God does not exist or that we don’t know and don’t care.
  3. A belief that God exists and is not good or caring. We confuse God with Religion and may have been harmed in the name of Religion. We reject the concept that we can have a working relationship with a God who loves and cares for us.

For those of us who begin recovery with a belief in God, maybe even with a relationship with Him, Step Eleven teaches us to improve and fine tune that relationship. Realizing that relationships are dynamic, we pray that this one grows stronger as we progress in recovery. For those who enter recovery as atheists or agnostics, this step requires a change in belief, not necessarily as drastic as one might think. Among my patients and friends, those who have had the most difficulty with Step Eleven are those who have been damaged by religion. Religion; human beings, not God.

Why? Because the founders of AA, the first of the now existing 125 twelve step programs, came to understand that a belief in God was a necessary ingredient for sustained and healthy recovery. Since then, most AA members have agreed and have emphasized the phrase, “as we understood Him.”

One’s God concept and relationship should be personal; that of parent, priest or church does not necessarily work for another. Note the wording in the step, “God as we understood Him.” Unrelated to religion, one’s conscious contact with God is a process we get to work on, in recovery as in life. The relationship requires time, energy and attention and for most changes as we grow spiritually and emotionally.

To work this step, we must begin somewhere. Some of us have never given thought to the existence of God. There are those for whom God, or absence thereof, has always been completely irrelevant. When we begin recovery and hear the “G” word, we have no foundation to understand. If we are openminded, we allow the thought that there may be more than we know at this time. Applying the principles of H.O.W., honest, openminded and willing, we can make progress, spiritually as well as emotionally. Opening our minds to another idea, to the possibility of the existence of God, is a beginning. God. Perhaps we imagine God as force of the universe, energy, or collective good. Those who have philosophically rejected God, along with religion, as something made up by man, may be able to see the difference. We are not promoting religion; we do recommend a relationship with a God of your understanding; a God that can work in your life. Whatever will help us begin, just begin to accept that there may be something greater than ourselves, this will get us through the door to step eleven. We have a starting point.

Accepting the idea of prayer and “conscious contact” with God is usually more difficult for those who have been harmed by religion (not God) than it is for those who have simply never thought about the whole concept. Sadly, parents sometimes use religion and/or God to threaten children. Rigid religiosity, hellfire and damnation lectures and sermons drive people away from God. The idea of developing a relationship with a loving God is lost. Even worse, are the many cases of emotional, physical and sexual abuse by clergy, youth workers and others. How does one then separate out God? There are also those who have been severely abused by their own fathers. How then does one get the concept of loving father? Tough questions and no easy answers. Some have found that they must actually fire the God of their childhood and hire a loving, caring God. You are not actually ‘firing God’, just the broken image someone else gave you, and seeking the God who loves you. The pathway differs from person to person; those who sincerely work this step and seek to improve conscious contact, will progress and grow spiritually. Guaranteed.

Whatever we do or do not believe when we stop using drugs and begin the life-changing journey into recovery, our God concept will change. If we are openminded and teachable, we find that we are able to develop a relationship with God as we understand Him. That understanding changes as we remain abstinent from mind altering drugs and do the work of the 12 steps.

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